Thursday, April 12, 2012

W.T. Stead and the Titanic

Much information is available on W.T. Stead from the Stead Resource Site, linked here and, of course, from Wikipedia. Regular readers of this blog and its forerunner will know that I ascribe much responsibility for the ideas behind the present EU to this man; who first wrote of Europa extolling the virtues of German domination of Europe in "Europa, The United States of Europe" in 1899, see here.

Stead perished on the Titanic in 1912, one hundred years ago next weekend, and thus never lived to see the horrors unleashed by German imperialism in the First World War, unlike his associates, such as, Rudyard Kipling and Lord Baden Powell.

Darlington, famed as the first railhead town, formed the backdrop to Stead's rise to prominence. As editor of the Northern Echo, he had a considerable influence over Gladstone's latter political success and it was this early start that subsequently was associated with his deemed fatherhood of the New Journalism. His Assistant Editor, Mark Fooks, previously editor of the local Richmond Yorks newspaper, (a position itself of considerable importance as hometown to the huge Catterick army base) and Stead's assistant at the Northern Echo, wrote on that as follows:

Until the advent of the Eastern Question Mr. Stead had not achieved more than a local reputation in connexion (sic) with the Northern Echo. The intensity of his political convictions, as shown by the fervour of his writings, had been previously manifest to Liberal political circles in Durham and Yorkshire and adjacent counties. The advent of the struggle between Russia and Turkey…(in 1876 blog editor's note) first brought Mr. Stead into recognition amongst the leading statesmen of the Liberal party.(Quoted in John Kensit, The Life of Mr. W.T. Stead: Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, 2nd edn and available online in pdf from W.T. Stead and the New Journalism by Owen Mulpetre 2010)
(See also ISBN 978033360216& Gladstone by Roy Jenkins 1995 page 403).

Mark Fooks is considered by Chris Lloyd, author of Attacking the Devil, the story of the Northern Echo (ISBN 1899432140  published 1999) to have been a friend as well as associate editor to William Stead, and is in places attributed as having introduced Stead to spiritualism, while together in Darlington, something that I, even as the greatly influenced grandson of Fooks' sole grandson, cannot either confirm or deny.

William Thomas Stead, left the North East and as the detailed resources linked at the beginning of this posting reveal in great detail, became a hugely influential figure in late Victorian and Edwardian British public life. The legacy of that influence (see here) is almost certainly still being felt to this day, as will be further explored on this blog while the week of the centenary of the Titanic's sinking slowly slips by!

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